These playoffs are getting interesting.
Since 2016, when the WNBA began with the double-single-elimination in the first two rounds of the playoff, and thus giving double byes to the top 2 regular season teams, the top 2 regular season teams have played in the finals against each other every year but one - and that year it was the #1 beating the #3, so only a slight deviation and both teams still got at least one bye.
We're now on the cusp of a final between two teams that had to play both single-elimination rounds, because they weren't good enough during the regular season to earn byes. If this happens, wow, super out-of-the-ordinary.
It makes you ask if there was something timeless that might have predicted this knowing very little about the actual teams in question. And of course, there are things.
The obvious trope here is that while Connecticut and Las Vegas were clearly the best teams in the regular season, and while both have previously made the finals in this era, both had their success this year on the back of new breakthroughs.
For the Sun, it was Jonquel Jones emerging as the resounding MVP of the league where her prior rise had been something of a slow burn - she was first Most Improved Player and then 6th Person of the Year. If Jones could be as effective in the playoffs as in the regular season, there really wasn't any reason to think they'd lose to anyone. The good news? Connecticut still feels like the more able team in their current series, it's just a matter of whether they can find their rhythm against the savvy veteran Sky. I'd probably still consider them the favorite in that series, and if they win that one, the favorite against whoever they play. Even if they lose this series, this might be only a bump in the road before Jonquel has her Giannis 2021 moment.
But of my, the Las Vegas Aces could be in some real trouble both now and going forward. The concept of this Aces team is essentially coach Laimbeer going Full Laimbeer. Between A'ja Wilson and Liz Cambage they have possibly the two best interior scorers in the game. If that really works, that's a dynasty.
It has to be noted what it says to be trying to win with an offensive-oriented twin towers, and this is completely antithetical to the state of the art in the NBA. There are stats those in the WNBA can point to show that this is working - most relevant here: the Aces had the best ORtg in the regular season, but there are also some red flags indicating post offense isn't working as well as folks in the WNBA think it is.
I've looked at the Aces all year and wondered if they can just brute force their way to the title. Important not to make too much of one game, but going down 2-1 in a Best of 5 series by having your offense run into an absolute wall against a meh defensive team when that's supposed to be your strong suit is a dark place to be. If they end up losing this series resoundingly, it's going to effectively going to refute the theory of the team, and with a star as temperamental as Cambage, things could go Ben Simmons.
On the underdogs currently winning: I don't think there's anything that's going to convince me that this Mercury or this Sky is an ultra-elite team, but there's now a very real chance one of them is going to win the whole shebang. The Mercury in particular could end up with a major "team of destiny" vibe with Taurasi becoming a true crossover sports icon on a level that I don't think we've ever seen from women's basketball, even though she's really past her prime and this is only possible because there are several other exceptional players on the team.
Hey: With what's going on in the world, my fuse is shorter than it used to be, and it's leading my lose my cool and then go on self-imposed breaks from things (such as RealGM). Please try to keep it civil, and I'll be looking to do the same.